Two Hollywood legends, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner, are using their clout to spoil Oscar night for the cast and crew of Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty. Their reason – the truth about torture goes against their moral and political stance. The very insinuation that torture played a role in getting information that led to the successful raid that ended in the death Osama bin Laden is offensive to them.
I just watched the movie. At no point was torture “glorified” or made to appear to be anything other than what it is. It’s torture. It’s ugly, offensive, and inhumane. It happened. We can surmise based upon its sustained use that the information gathered through torture was used effectively in the war on terror. Many who had knowledge of the raid have said that torture played a role in finding bin Laden.
Phil Mudd, a former CIA deputy director, told CBS that, “The information I saw derived from the detainees we had in CIA facilities — and that includes detainees where they used enhanced techniques — was invaluable. I would call it crucial.”
If anything, the movie highlights just how awful torture really is. From the beginning it is depicted truthfully as a method used to gather intelligence. That is factual and the movie stayed within the bounds of proper storytelling. There was no agenda on display, no pro- or anti- torture sentiment resonating in the dialogue.
For Sheen and Abner to want to punish a movie for telling the truth is a embracing the type of revisionist history that pollutes our movie culture. They weren’t protesting against Titanic for promoting pre-marital sex on a boat or for taking one of the greatest tragedies in modern history and wrapping the storyline around a contrived love story. They weren’t protesting The Hurt Locker for depicting the US military in a negative light.
What they have done is to send out letters asking Academy members to “vote their conscience”. I hope the members do. Osama bin Laden is dead and it’s very possible that had torture not been employed, he might still be alive and plotting the next attack on America. If a real conscience played a role in Hollywood, Zero Dark Thirty would win for telling the truth.
In the eyes of Sheen and Asner, honesty and the safety of American citizens are not important. Their conscience prefers lying about our history and protecting the rights of those who want Americans to die.